Tired of being bullied by managing committees and fed up of the state of affairs in their society, many Mumbaiites would be happy to find an alternative to the cooperative housing society. There’s just one other option, however, for people who don’t want to be part of a housing society — the condominium or apartment owners’ associations.
A condominium is a building or a complex of buildings containing a number of individually owned apartments or houses. Unlike a cooperative housing society, wherein the land or property belongs to the society, when you are part of a condominium or apartment owners’ association, every apartment owner has the legal title of his or her house along with a percentage of the common amenities.
The initial owner of the land — the builder — makes a declaration that states the division of the property and the number of flats on it. He then sells the apartments to home buyers through a deed of apartment to each of them individually.
“The upside in this style of functioning is that every resident owns his or her share of the property,” said Ramesh Prabhu, chairman of the Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association. There’s a drawback though. “It can lead to property disputes that are tough to sort out,” he said.
Any decision regarding the development of the entire property will need the individual consent of each and every apartment owner. “So, if the complex needs to go for redevelopment, all owners have to give permission. In a cooperative housing society, only 70% of the flat owners’ permission is needed,” Prabhu pointed out.
Condominiums are popular in cities such as Bangalore and Pune. “In these cities, majority of the residents have formed apartment associations and there are better regulations than in Mumbai,” said Prabhu. “In Bangalore though, an increasing number of residents are opting to form a cooperative housing society because the guidelines to run it are more clear.”
The bye-laws of an association of apartments are under the Maharashtra Apartment Ownership Act, 1970. “But the regulations and implementation of the bye-laws in a condominium are not very clear,” said advocate Vinod Sampat.
“An apartment association may or may not have rules for leasing, parking, transfer fee, etc,” explained Sampat. This flexibility in the bye-laws can help the association make decisions faster, but it can lead to more disputes too.
For instance, a condominium that has decided to charge transfer fee from an owner when he or she is selling a property has no cap on the transfer fee to worry about.
While a condo can run smoothly as long as there are no disputes, it gets messier if you are part of an apartment association than a housing society if there are disputes that need to be resolved. An apartment owner can file a complaint at the cooperative department’s sub-registrar’s office, but both Sampat and Prabhu said that these matters have to be taken to civil court as there is no dedicated legislation for condominiums.
“In Mumbai, while condominiums are an alternative to cooperative housing societies, they have their owns set of problems because there is no regulatory body for apartment associations,” said Prabhu.
Unless a society has its conveyance deed - document showing transfer of ownership of land from land owner to society - it will not be to switch to the condo style of functioning.
The owners of the apartments have to make a declaration in a prescribed form the contents whereof should be stated as under section 11 of Maharashtra Apartment Ownership Act, 1970.
The declaration should contain in brief: a description of the land, description of the building proposed to be constructed, description of each apartment, description of common areas and facilities, description of limited common areas and facilities in respect of each apartment, value of the property and each apartment and percentage of undivided interest in common areas and facilities of each apartment.
The declaration should have the name and the address of all flat owners, percentage of votes of each apartment owner, manner of amendment of declaration if required and other details desired by the declarants.
The declaration with annexures is required to be registered with the state government’s sub-registrar of assurances from your civic ward.
As per the declaration registered with the sub-registrar of assurance, the apartment owners form an apartment owners’ association’ and run the society using the bye-laws under the Maharashtra Apartment Ownership Act, 1970.
An association will have a board of managers similar to the managing committee of cooperative housing society. Their chief duty would be to look after the administration and maintenance of the condo’s common areas.